Phillies fire their hitting coach

Milt Thompson
Milt Thompson
Posted: July 23, 2010

ST. LOUIS - The Phillies have found a scapegoat for their offensive problems.

Hitting coach Milt Thompson was fired by manager Charlie Manuel late Thursday night, once the Phillies' charter flight from St. Louis landed in Philadelphia.

His replacement is triple-A hitting coach Greg Gross. Gross was the Phillies' hitting coach from 2002 to 2004 under then-manager Larry Bowa.

Under Thompson, the Phillies led the National League in runs scored in two of the last three seasons. But that wasn't enough for the hitting coach to keep his job during a disappointing 2010 season.

Phillies officials were not available for comment late Thursday night.

Before Thursday's 2-0, 11-inning win, the Phillies ranked sixth in the league in runs scored. And since May 17, when the Phillies held a five-game lead in the National League East, they have averaged 3.88 runs per game. Only Seattle, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh (all last-place teams) have averaged fewer runs.

The Phillies have scored two or fewer runs in 32 of 95 games this season.

In 2009, the Phillies led the NL in home runs, RBIs, runs, extra-base hits, and total bases. In the last five seasons under Thompson, the Phillies have ranked either first or second in runs scored among National League teams. The Phillies have averaged 837 runs with Thompson as coach in the last five seasons.

In early June, when the Phillies were in their first extended swoon of the season, Manuel offered a passionate defense of Thompson at the end of a road trip in Atlanta.

"It's definitely not Milt Thompson's fault," Manuel said. "He doesn't do the hitting."

Manuel then said the players were more to blame.

Clearly that tune changed.

Thompson, 51, was hired in 2004 as first-base coach. In 2005, he became hitting coach. He was a member of the 1993 Phillies World Series team and hit .313 with six RBIs in the six-game series.

Gross, 57, has been the hitting coach for triple-A Lehigh Valley for the last three seasons. He spent 10 seasons as a player with the Phillies and played in two World Series.

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